Holy ale

A SUFFOLK church is today embarking on a quest…for the holy gr-ale!Earl Soham's St Mary's Church has linked up with the village brewery to revive the ancient tradition of Pentecost ale.

A SUFFOLK church is today embarking on a quest…for the holy gr-ale!

Earl Soham's St Mary's Church has linked up with the village brewery to revive the ancient tradition of Pentecost ale.

The custom of marking the religious festival with a commemorative beer has not been upheld for more than 400 years.

But 144 gallons – the equivalent of 1,152 pints of the stuff – will make sure the village celebrates in good spirits this year.

Reverend Clare Sanders, Earl Soham parish priest, spearheaded the idea of reviving the ale.

She said: "Earl Soham Brewery is known for its good beer and we are lucky to have it in the village.

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"I read about the tradition and thought it would be a great way to raise money for church funds, forge a community partnership and allow everybody in the village to have a good time.

"I'm not a beer drinker myself but shall at least have a taste, if not a whole pint. Plenty of men in the village have said they will make up for it though."

Pentecost – originally a Jewish festival – is celebrated as the birthday of the Christian church. It was enjoyed in medieval times with feasting, dancing and drinking. Puritans banned the frivolities only for them to be restored by Charles II in 1603.

Brewer John Bjornson said: "The church told us tradition said it must be strong and fruity but we didn't think having it too strong was a good idea.

"It will instead be flavoursome, but no more than four per cent alcohol.

"We are aiming for it to have a red glow and fruity flavour.

"We haven't brewed the finished product yet but we did a trial and think we have the recipe right, and now we will produce it on a large scale."

The Earl Soham Brewery is no stranger to celebratory ales. Previous one-off projects include beers to commemorate the Queen's Golden Jubilee, the demolition of the twin towers at the former Wembley Stadium and St Valentine's Day.

The ale will be launched at a village barbecue on May 11 where the Archdeacon, the Venerable Geoffrey Arrand, will bless it.

Morris dancers and children's entertainment will also feature at the event – raising money to rid the church building of damp.

WEBLINK:

www.earlsohambrewery.co.uk

www.earl-soham.suffolk.gov.uk/ village_life/churches1.htm

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